“The scenario of “Elegant Lies” was flawless. If even just one part hit home, I think the movie was totally worth it.”
With the movie “Elegant Lies”, actress Kim Hee Ae (47) made her first comeback to the big screen after 21 years of absence. She was “elegant” to the point that her being in her late 40’s feels like a lie.
When we met her at the Seoul Plaza Hotel on the 4th of March, she said in an even tone that “the scenario is what I think about first and foremost”.
“It tells the story of what could happen to anyone in their daily lives. It’s from the point of view of a mother raising her kids. It’s not just the kids’ problem, the adults are also upset because of the harsh words and the story behind. This subject is meaningful when you see that it can also happen in our society.”
She didn’t hide her expectation for “Elegant Lies” as she revealed, “I worry about it (the box-office result), but there’s more to life than just having a big audience. This movie must remain, even as the years go by.”
“I chose this movie because it was directed by Lee Han and his movie “Punch” (2011) had left me a big impression. I was glad because he said that this movie would be even better than “Punch” and it will become a movie that I won’t be ashamed of.”
Kim Hee Ae left behind her role as a “mom” of her 16-year-old and 14-year-old sons in order to play Hyun Sook, a tough mom raising on her own Man Ji (Go A Sung) and her little sister Chun Ji (Kim Hyang Ki). From her husband going to heaven 9 years earlier to her youngest daughter who is 14 and takes her own life, Hyun Sook moves on with her life with Man Ji. Huffing and puffing, she bravely works as a convenience store saleswoman.
Twisted like a hard ball of wool, Chun Ji’s story steadily unravels and each character grows step by step as it goes.
“You know how you face an incident or something that feels like an incident in your life and that makes you evolve as a person. Still, it seems that there’s a reason for us to have no other choice but to keep on living. As you endure the pain that you hide, your show a calm image of yourself on a daily basis and you actually feel more warm-hearted. It was good to use a serene and non-excited way to express this unavoidable part that you’d like to avoid.”
With a story revolving around Chun Ji and Hwa Yeon (played by Kim Yoo Jung), “Elegant Lies” follows the subtle psychological war and the particular ostracizing raging between middle-school girls as we discover their families and the people in their lives.
“Before that, I was embarrassed to watch my projects with my family because there was an age limit and I didn’t tell them to come to the premieres. This time, I definitely want to show this movie to my kids,” Kim Hee Ae said.
“This is something that must be learned by kids as they go on with their lives. It’s not a problem that you can talk about by forcing them to sit in front of a blackboard. They must feel something, they must be moved, so their attitude can change. I hope this movie can help to talk to them in a gentle way about how much of a big deal one careless word is.”
Before, Kim Hee Ae cried during the press conference because she was touched by the acting of the young actresses she worked with like Go Ah Sung, Kim Yoo Jung and Kim Hyang Ki. “I was so amazed that I wondered if their acting was the sensitivity of their peers. This is world-class acting. I worried a lot about how to do it and the press conference was my first time seeing the result of what we had filmed. I realized that my worries were gone. I was the one who showed the worst acting, the kids were just amazing. While I was watching the movie, I knew I would cry. When it was over, I just couldn’t hold it in. I was also touched from the viewer’s point of view. My kids are the same age as the characters, so being able to control my emotions and perform this role in a calm way, this was something touching and that made me proud.”
For Kim Hee Ae who debuted at the age of 16 in 1983, the emotion she showed about young actors seemed uncommon. “I debuted at an early age, but I don’t think that starting working in this industry when you’re young is such a great thing. You can become depressed because you pay in advance what you’d pay when you’re an adult and because people hurt you. This is how I think it was for my generation. Nowadays, it seems that the kids enjoy the work for itself. They’re no longer “child actors”. They are professional, so it was very stimulating,” she said.
“Even if it’s hard, the kids endure it and act with everything they have in their soul because they become their characters. They were really awesome. I think Go Ah Sung is a strong and good actress. Kim Yoo Jung is Korea’s Scarlett Johansson. She’s beautiful and when I see her acting, I think she’ll be cast in international movies. Kim Hyang Ki? Look at her eyes. They’re just real actresses. If they can speak English, I hope they won’t just stay in Korea and they will work just anywhere.”
Kim Hee Ae is also enjoying her work. After she finished filming “Elegant Lies” last year, she shot the tvN variety program “Nunas Over Flowers”. The lively candid image of a Kim Hee Ae meticulously eating kimchi even in Europe was a big issue. As she’s doing interviews and promo work related to “Elegant Lies”, she’s currently shooting JTBC “Secret Love Affair”, a melodrama with Yoo Ah In who is 19 years younger than her.
“I was suddenly pressed with work, but it was unintentional. From a drama, a photographing travel to PR stuff, I feel like dying because I do stuff that I usually don’t do. However, if you change the perspective, I’m thankful when someone calls my name if I’m at the mall to buy clothes or something to wear.(laugh) What is shown is that I try my best to make things entertaining for those around me on set (even if it’s hard). Because that makes me happy.”
Kim Hee Ae who has been acting more than half of her life revealed her never-ending passion for her job as she said, “As I get older, I feel just how precious my work is to me. I want it (her acting career) to last long. I live every day thinking that I must work hard.”
“It’s good if people of my time can relate and if it’s comforting for them and if I can be their friend. Maintening my body isn’t just about to have a great appearance. I do it as an actress because I want to protect my pride as I work as long as possible. I wonder if this won’t be the road my hoobaes will follow.”
t/n: the literal translation of the movie title uses the sound “wow” that can be understood as amazing. So Kim Hee Ae and the interviewer use the term “wow” as a reference to the movie title and I translated it as “amazing” or “elegant”.
There’s actually a second version of this interview. I translated this one because she talks about the young actresses, but the second one is little bit clearer about her vision of acting and what she thinks of the movie, so… I guess I will translate as well? lol
Original article: chosun